Castle- Under Siege (Prosthetic Records)

Some great trad metal on offer.
Release Date: 
16 May 2014 (All day)

Now here’s a tasty piece of work. San Francisco’s Castle has been fortifying their position in the underground over the last few years with a hearty mix of occult rock, traditional metal and doom. 2012’s Blacklands saw them dabble with blackened elements and epic themes which worked to great effect. Their latest work, Under Siege, sees them stripping back that sound to a more direct and old school vibe. Thankfully, this doesn’t suck out the quality of the song-writing as the band manages to put forth an air-tight performance.

If I were to describe Castle’s sound on this record to you, I would direct you to what In Solitude was doing last year with their Sister opus. A tasty mix of old-school traditional metal and doom influences, just replace the gothic elements with an extra shot of Sabbath. Take for example opener Distant Attack; it’s too fast to be an out and out doom track, but you can’t deny that Iommi feel especially to the leads. Throughout the album, the guitars really drive the old school aesthetics the band was going for, sounding like a decent mix of Mercyful Fate’s Melissa and Dio-era Sabbath.

When band names like that are thrown around in comparison, you’d hope that the material lives up to the hype. Fortunately, the band delivers quality in spades. I’d attribute this consistency to the fact that the band clearly knows how to self-edit to get the best out of themselves. At about 34 minutes and 8 songs, not one second on this album is put to waste and every song hits with just enough weight and brevity to stay stuck in your mind.

As such, there’s no real filler on the album but my personal highlights would have to be the esoteric groove of Pyramid Lake or the Children of the Grave stomp of lead single Temple of the Lost. Much of the album’s staying power can be attributed to vocalist Elizabeth Blackwell and her smooth crooning performance. Her vocal hooks have just the right melodic oomph and she has really come onto her own as a performer on this album. 

Trad fans take note, there’s something special about this band and it’s high time they got a little attention.